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The premier of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna on May 7, 1824, was the most significant artistic event of the year—and the work remains one of the most precedent-shattering and influential compositions in the history of music. Described in vibrant detail by eminent musicologist Harvey Sachs, this symbol of freedom and joy was so unorthodox that it amazed and confused listeners at its unveiling—yet it became a standard for subsequent generations of creative artists, and its composer came to embody the Romantic cult of genius. In this unconventional, provocative book, Beethoven’s masterwork becomes a prism through which we may view the politics, aesthetics, and overall climate of the era. Part biography, part history, part memoir, The Ninth brilliantly explores the intricacies of Beethoven’s last symphony—how it brought forth the power of the individual while celebrating the collective spirit of humanity. read more
This is actually an exploration of changes in European culture that occured after Napoleon's final exile. Using the ninth as his cultural pivot point, Sachs presents the beginnings of Romanticism as a rebellion through art and literature against the re-assertion of power by the royal dynasties. Poets and musicians led the call for rights and brotherhood where actual political dissidents would be imprisonment or executed.After being given a good background on Beethoven's life and examples of how others around him were responding to the changes of that decade, we are taken on a walk-through of the ninth symphony. This is given with the least amount of musical terminology possible and is also an attempt to describe the emotional effects of each movement.We are then given a look at the aftermath of the ninth on musical culture. Beethoven may have been a man of his time, but it still took the European world a while to catch up with him.read more
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Beethoven wasn't always a cultural icon. At least one critic attending the 1824 premiere of his Symphony No. 9 in D Minor likened what he heard to a "hideously writhing wounded dragon." Just why the composer and his works endure is the question behind this absorbing book by music historian Sachs (Toscanini). Through detailed musical analysis and condensed readings of cultural politics and 19th-century history, Sachs ponders "what role so-called high culture played, plays, and ought to play in civilization." Using the year 1824 and the premiere of the Ninth as ground zero, Sachs reviews the literary, artistic, and social movements of the time, noting how Beethoven's innovative symphony (the first with a vocal score) and its themes of equality and redemption no doubt challenged the resurgent conservatism among Europe's monarchies. Sachs places Beethoven alongside Pushkin, Byron, and other prominent romantics, whose talents he finds linked to a common quest for freedoms-political, artistic, and "above all of the mind and spirit." After first presenting the Ninth as a Viennese social event and then as emblematic of Beethoven's artistic process, Sachs shines with a close reading of the Ninth's musical score, interpreting its techniques and emotive narrative. Readers will want a recording nearby. In the book's last chapter, Sachs deals with the impact and legacy of Beethoven's masterwork and explains what makes his music universal. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved